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"How could anyone leave such a lovely place to go to rack and ruin? It looks as if no one has ever been near it for decades, its land's untended and its olive tress unkept. I want it every badly. It ought to be mine."
In 1983 a pale Annie Hawes and her equally pale sister decide to leave England for the sun-drenched olive groves of a small Italian town in Liguria. With fantasies of handsome tanned men and swimming in the sea urging them on, they sign up to graft roses-something they know nothing about, but as it is a bad year for olives, they figure they can fake a knowledge of roses for ten weeks. What they don't count on is falling in love with Italy-and with one old farmhouse in particular.
Although they quickly realize that Liguria is not Tuscany -- it is undiscovered by tourists, and its inhabitants (none of whom appear to be handsome, and none of whom seem to be under forty) have strict ideas about what young Englishwomen should and shouldn't be doing("to go swimming in seawater outside the month of July or August is even worse for your health than drinking cappuccino after twelve noon ") they simply cannot resist the charm exuded by the little town. Annie, who has never wanted to settle down anywhere, now doesn't want to leave. How will she find a way to make this old derelict farmhouse her own? What will the Ligurians think about their wild new neighbor with her strange ways staying on for good?
"Extra Virgin" is a wonderful memoir, written with irresistible verve and humor. Annie Hawe's adventures will captivate readers who have wondered what happens when you fall in love with a certain house, on a certain hill, near a certain village. After eighteen years living as a Ligurian, Annie tells a story that is much more realistic than nay other book on Italy, and" Extra Virgin" is sure to put Liguria in the minds of travelers, armchair and real alike.
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